The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality is the only energy supply agency in the country that has a progressive rebate programme for solar and renewable energy. What puts us ahead of the rest of the country is that Nelson Mandela Bay allows business and individuals to run back their electicity meters, after installing renewable power, on a one for one basis. Effectively this allows consumers to zero their electricity bill.
One can argue that the early adoption of this renewable rebate programme has helped progressive and innovative companies to concentrate on renewable energy and remain at the forefront of this technology.
Formal business, represented by the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, formed a Renewable Energy Task Team to champion and report back on this industry. The Renewable Energy Task Team recently held a feedback morning on the benefits to business after installing Solar Energy via Section 12B of the Income Tax Act at a coffee morning hosted by KPMG, Microcare and Africoast Engineers.
Being at the forefront of this technology has seen South African, African and Global Export markets opening up for solar photovoltaic power installations by local company PIA Solar.
The recent depreciation of the rand, which has made South Africa companies more competitive, combined with it’s ISO 9001 certification and proven track record, is making PiA Solar SA (PTY) Ltd. a sought-after solution for the supply and installation of solar mounting solutions, according to co-founder Colin Muller.
Solar tracking systems increase the output of solar installations by ensuring that the panels are working at optimum efficiency throughout the day by following the sun.
Sardinia Bay, Port Elizabeth-based PiA Solar has developed both the solar structures and the software for the tracker, which supports solar panels.
This is the only South African designed and manufactured product which has been selected for the South African REIPPP projects.
The first solar farm using the system is operating at the CSIR in Pretoria.
With PiA Solar’s recently awarded projects of 90MW in De Aar and 86MW in Prieska, the company is now one of the largest suppliers and installers of solar structures in South Africa.
It is installing around 9 000 solar panels per day on two sites, and will soon pass the one million mark.
Benefits to the economy of the solar roll-out are far-reaching, according to Muller.
The company this year will supply around 10 000 tons of locally-produced steel for the solar farms it is currently building, according to Muller.
“But, our greatest pride is that during the national economic slowdown PiA Solar has created more than 10 000 man months of employment, of which more than 8 000 months has been in normally disadvantaged rural areas,” he says.
The Competitiveness of the renewable solar energy market makes it imperative that new installations are as efficient as possible and the innovative PiA Solar tracker perfectly fills that gap by offering our clients a truly cost-effective solution, says Muller.
The ISO 9001 quality certification achievement proves the company is serious about its manufacturing, supply and installation business and this has given the company a definite export boost, he adds.
“Most of the international companies in the solar sector will not work with suppliers unless they are ISO certified. As the first sub-structure designer, manufacturer and installer in South Africa to obtain ISO certification we can now compete directly against international companies,” he says.
The company has become one of Africa’s biggest installers of solar projects since being awarded the contract to design, manufacture and install the frames for the 75MW Kalkbult solar project in the Northern Cape, which was awarded to Scatec Solar in Round One of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPP). Using patented PiA Solar anchors and the company’s own mounting system,
The project was completed six weeks ahead of schedule; PiA Solar has since been involved in the installation of 400MW of solar panels – 260MW of which is on its own structures.
A PiA team has set a new industry standard by installing up to 9 156 modules in one day.
PiA Solar has supplied and installed some 300 000 of its patented rock anchors. PiA Solar is currently installing the rock anchor at an impressive rate of over 3000 units per day on the 2 solar farms currently under construction.
Muller says the success of the company is due to it using best practice from their previous experience as suppliers to the Eastern Cape automotive manufacturing sector. “We create what are, in effect, giant factories on site,” he says.
Axel Pustet brings with him vast solar experience and international knowledge. He is both a partner and director of business development said that his recent travels include Uganda, Ghana and Namibia where he is finalising future export projects for the company.
PiA is at present also supplying solar structures to Zambia. “Now, with the tracker we are able to offer the full range of mounting equipment – from rooftop to utility-scale. Not only that, we have a proven track record of being able to install the panels on time and on budget under very difficult working conditions,” he says.
“As for the environment we develop what we believe to be a fully modular mounting system which are easily adjustable and can be installed on the virgin undulating terrain without removing any of the sensitive Karoo vegetation.” he says.
“Combining our recently awarded ISO 9001 with our existing project success in the supply and installations to the African Solar market make PiA Solar a proud Partner of choice for future projects,” adds Muller.
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